EXPLAINED: Why India chose Egypt’s El-Sisi as Chief Guest for Republic Day?
The reality is, El-Sisi has made Egypt stable. Of course it came with a heavy price.
You must have heard in the news that the Egyptian president is going to be the chief guest of India on Republic Day that is on 26 January 2023, in fact the Egyptian troops would also be part of the 74th Republic Day Parade they will be walking along the Indian contingents on Kartavya Path.
The main question is why did the Indian government choose Egypt?
To answer this question we need to first understand who the Egyptian president is.
The President of Egypt is Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, he is popularly known as El-Sisi.
Of course India and Egypt enjoy warm and friendly relations. The two countries work closely at multilateral and international platforms.
Bilateral trade between India and Egypt has achieved a record high of 7.26 billion dollars in 2021 and 22. So all of this is great but then just because trade is doing good between India and Egypt or any other country it doesn’t necessarily mean that India has to select that particular country with whom trade is high and based on that to impress them Indian government is inviting the state head to attend a republic day.
It is not like that in fact there are many other countries with whom India does much higher volume trade when compared to Egypt so trade economy is not the reason behind inviting the Egyptian president there is something else.
Now let me give you some information about the Egyptian president in brief because we need to know few things about who this person is.
El-Sisi has been the Egyptian president since 2014. He is the Sixth President of Egypt. Before becoming a politician, he was a military officer, who has served in the Egyptian army with his dedication and hard work he commanded various positions.
That way in 2011 he rose to the rank of General that is chief of Egyptian Army wherein he also went on to become a member of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF).
During that time Hosni Mubarak was the president of Egypt, he served as the president for 29 years. He was a member of the National Democratic Party which is often referred to as, National Party in Egypt.
They were the ruling political party in Egypt from 1978 to 2011. Always remember one point if there is a word called Democratic in a political party then chances are United States has some involvement in it.
Guess what, Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel in 1979 was organized by United States under Camp David Accords the National Democratic Party of Egypt had good relations with the United States.
Since United States was giving Aid to Egypt for years, in fact Egypt supported and was part of United States military coalition during the Persian Gulf crisis and Iraqi War. So if you see Hosni Mubarak was very much cultivated by the United States and that is what made him enjoy his 29 years long presidency.
But then you also have to understand this that during his 29 years of president currency the Egyptian Society was suffering, from inefficient Administration, abuse of power, increasing corruption, political suppression, police brutality and falling living standards, now all of this led to his incompetency.
As a result in 2011 there was a revolution in Egypt which began on 25th January 2011. Millions of protesters belonging to various socio-economic and religious backgrounds demanded the overthrow of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. In the following month that is in February 2011 Hosni Mubarak resigned.
The statement came after reports said that “Mr. Mubarak had left the presidential Palace and gone to the Egyptian Red Sea Resort of Sharm El Sheikh”.
People were extremely happy with his resignation. Immediately after his resignation the SCAF took over Egypt. Then President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from his post, as President of the Republic the SCAF to manage the Affairs of the country.
By 2011 El-Sisi was already a general as well as member of the SCAF, since there was no president in Egypt for the year 2011 the head of the SCAF that is Field Marshal Mohammed Soliman was practically running the country for one and a half years.
In other words military was running Egypt but people of Egypt were happy about it. They had no complaints from the Egyptian Military, except few minorities who had problem with everyone and every time.
Anyhow, so during the first year of military rule, General El-Sisi came into the limelight.
General El-Sisi who is a devout Muslim in the year 2011, started holding internal talks with a group called the Muslim Brotherhood, it is the Sunni Islamist religious group.
They are extremists. This group had links in many other Muslim countries but they had a large base in Egypt, so General came in contact with them and what is more interesting is that after the 2011 Revolution and the removal of Hosni Mubarak this Islamic group launched a political party by the name ‘Freedom and Justice Party’ just to contest elections.
So basically this new political party has same mission and goal, but different roles.
In June 2012, Muhammad Morsi a senior figure in the Muslim Brotherhood group became Egypt’s first democratically elected president, and two months later he appointed General as the commander-in-chief of the military and defense minister of Egypt.
In the same year that is in 2012, nationwide protests erupted against the new president Morsi, and his group the Muslim Brotherhood-led government.
Since people had anger and fear, that this extremist religious group would preach and impose hardline interpretation of Islam. This protest went on till the end of June 2013.
On 3rd July 2013 general El-Sisi appeared on television to announce that the President Morsi had been removed from office.
The constitution was suspended and an interim government was installed.
He said, “Muhammad Morsi had failed to fulfill the hope for the national consensus”.
US media reported, “Early Wednesday evening, tanks and troops moved toward the Presidential Palace, and soon after, the military officially removed Morsi from power. They suspended the constitution, and installed an interim government”.
Basically El-Sisi was involved in the military coup that removed president Morsi from office on 3rd July 2013, in response to the June 2013 Egyptian protests.
Since all of this was announced by General El-Sisi on the National Television. He used the words, “Mohammad Morsi had failed to fulfill the hope for the national consensus”.
People resonated with his sentence, and on top of it Egyptians had hope, and they saw that hope in El-Sisi.
People felt that the people and the Army are one hand. Adly Mansoor served as the interim president from July 2013 to June 2014.
Further, if you see the Egyptian Military removed Muhammad Morsi so naturally Muslim Brotherhood supporters and other groups opposed military’s actions even they held protests throughout Egypt but Egyptian Security Forces confronted them with deadly force
In this one year from July 2013 to June 2014 when Adly Mansoor was running the country as an interim president, General El-Sisi preparing for his political career.
In January 2014, General El-Sisi was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal, Egypt’s highest army rank. Since he enjoyed strong support from the military, hence you can say that he received the Egyptian military’s blessings and support for contesting in presidential election.
Two months later, that is in March 2014 he announced his retirement from the military and launched his election campaign under the slogan “Long Live Egypt”.
He then outlined an ambitious plan to develop agriculture, housing, education, impoverished areas, and boost employment
Since he was already popular and his election manifesto appealed to the public.
General El-Sisi was elected president in May 2014 with 97% of the vote. If you look at the Egyptian president’s term, it is for six years that means in 2020 president El-Sisi had to face another election. Again he won with a landslide Victory with nearly 75% of the total vote.
Why he won?
If you look at the final seat distribution after the 2020 election there is a party called Nation’s Future Party. It got 360 seats. Moreover, President El-Sisi is an independent candidate so this party strongly backs President El-Sisi.
Why would a political party with so many votes back an independent candidate?
They can very well find someone from their own party. The reason they backed President El-Sisi is because he is known as a very strict administrator. He is even stricter than the previous leader Hosni Mubarak who has ruled Egypt for almost 30 years.
The reality is, El-Sisi has made Egypt stable. Of course it came with a heavy price.
Various groups even accuse him of human rights violation but nevertheless he did restore stability by cracking down on radical Islamist militants. He even banned the Muslim Brotherhood group and arrested its top leaders and supporters.
Many were later given death sentences or lengthy prison terms, that is why he is accused of violating human rights. But then everyone knows that these so-called human rights activists always provide intellectual cover-fire to these radical Islamist Jihadi groups. It is a common practice in Kashmir, and Indians are aware of it.
Further, El-Sisi was also responsible for the devaluation of Egypt’s currency in 2016.
Please remember that, devaluation happens when a government makes monetary policy to reduce their own currency’s value.
Usually there are three strong reasons behind it:
1- To boost exports: Devalued currency would make products less expensive.
2- To reduce trade deficits: After devaluation, exports will increase and imports will decrease but then in the long run it can the economy. However, if you do it thoughtfully then devaluing the home currency, can help you correct the balance of payments and reduce trade deficits.
3- To reduces sovereign debt burden: After devaluation, a weaker currency makes government debt payments effectively less expensive. Even this tactic should be used with caution.
Anyhow, President El-Sisi devalued the Egyptian currency in 2016. He also launched a number of mega projects to revive the economy including $8.2 billion expansion of Swiss canal.
Overall, if you see President El-Sisi and his government has taken actions that were necessary to attract investment in Egypt, and help restore the economy. At the same time, he is also known to be an administrator with an iron grip and that is because of his military background which if you see is actually a rare leadership quality.
In 2017 President El-Sisi became the first Egyptian leader to visit the White House since the 2011 Revolution. He visited again in 2019. He also met the U.S president Donald Trump.
President Trump told him, “You are my favorite dictator”.
You may have your own opinion about Donald Trump, but the fact of the matter is President El-Sisi has been successful in maintaining order in Egypt.
He is not a king or a monarch and definitely not a dictator. He has been democratically elected plus he is an army man and a Field Marshal who knows exactly how to run his country with discipline rule of law and order.
He also seems to know few things about economy. At a time when radical Islamist Jihadis are on the rise, creating chaos and madness all across the world it is very rare to see such leadership quality, top of that, in a Muslim country.
This is precisely the reason why the government of India chose the Egyptian president to be the Chief Guest on Republic Day, and also invited the Egyptian Army contingent to march on Republic day.
It is going to send a message to all the nearby countries especially towards the western side of India. These are the type of languages and signaling in today’s diplomatic world.
Article extracted from Amit Sengupta’s YouTube video.